BEIJING (Reuters) – China on Monday dismissed a warning from the head of NASA that China might “seize” the moon as part of a military program as an irresponsible distortion, saying it had always called for the building of a community of nations. Outer Space.
China has stepped up the pace of its space program in the past decade, focusing on lunar exploration. China made its first unmanned moon landing in 2013 and expects to launch rockets powerful enough to send astronauts to the moon by the end of this decade.
“We should be very concerned that China is landing on the moon and say: ‘It’s ours now and you’re out’,” NASA Administrator Bill Nielson told Germany’s Bild newspaper in an interview published on Saturday.
The head of the US space agency said that China’s space program is a military program and that China stole ideas and technology from others.
“This is not the first time that the head of the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration ignored the facts and spoke irresponsibly about China,” said Zhao Lijian, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesman.
“The US side has consistently launched a smear campaign against China’s normal and reasonable endeavors in outer space, and China firmly opposes such irresponsible remarks.”
He said China has consistently promoted the construction of a common future for mankind in outer space and has opposed its armament and any arms race in space.
NASA, under its Artemis program, plans to send a manned mission to orbit the moon in 2024 and land a crew near the south pole of the moon by 2025.
China plans unmanned missions to the moon’s south pole sometime during this decade.
(Reporting by Martin Quinn Pollard; writing by Ryan Wu; Editing by Robert Persell)
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